TAKING ON SEVERAL ESTABLISHMENTS. Imagine a political family, newly arrived on the national scene, with protected-status minority ancestry, and children with unusual names including a recently pregnant teenage daughter. The ancestry is African, the names faux-Franco-African, and the father of the baby is missing.

Angry with me? Accusing me of a bait-and-switch? Reconsidering your frame? In Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell suggests that there's little substantive difference between the white redneck culture those white liberals sneer at, and the authentic black culture those white liberals will affirm. (There may be a generalization of the quick-to-anger and anti-intellectual elements of the projects -- the black rednecks -- and the council houses -- the yob version of the Anglo-Scots hillbilly, but stopped by the Pennines rather than the Appalachians -- to Islamic honor killings, but that is left as a future exercise.) Go beyond the polemics, however, and you discover Professor Sowell's anger with the liberal establishment's embrace of that phony authenticity, at the expense of more functional ways of dealing with very real oppression in a more positive way. That anger, backed up by inspection of the historical record, provides a structure to the essay that gives the book its title, as well as a chapter on black education and a concluding essay, "History versus Visions," that revisits the author's earlier work on the tragic vision and the contrast of social with cosmic justice.

Those chapters would stand alone and provide instructive, if provocative, reading. We have a longer Book Review No. 43 because either Professor Sowell or the editor at Encounter asked for more content. Thus we get a chapter on the ubiquity of slavery before the European colonial powers took a stand against it, a chapter on middleman minorities, and an essay about Germans. These give Professor Sowell the opportunity to take on the entire post-multi-diversi-establishment, although they turn the book into a collection of points. As the author has written more focused works on each of those topics, the summaries are likely to annoy readers more familiar with the in-depth work and risk distracting casual readers.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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